Monday, October 14, 2019

Study Torah as a businessman

Our task in life has no greater enemy, and there is no greater cancer on our present state, than ignorance. Study Torah thoroughly—Torah, the Prophets, Ketuvim (Hagiographia), Talmud and decisors. And do not study out of a desire to be a rabbi. Study Torah as a businessman, a tradesman, an artist, a doctor, or a scientist.

Collected Writings, vol. 7, pp. 157 [Ges. Schrift., vol. 5, p. 225] in Torah Leadership for Our Times, Jewish Action

Sunday, October 13, 2019

News flash: politicians lie

"I have said this before, but I shall say it again and again and again: Your boys are not going to be sent into any foreign wars." 

Franklin D. Roosevelt, campaigning for a third term as US President, October 30, 1940, Boston

 "I am fighting to keep our people out of foreign wars. And I will keep on fighting."

Franklin D. Roosevelt, campaigning for a third term as US President, November 1, 1940, Brooklyn, New York

"Your national government ... is equally a government of peace -- a government that intends to retain peace for the American people."

Franklin D. Roosevelt, campaigning for a third term as US President, November 2, 1940, Rochester, New York

"Your President says this country is not going to war." 

Franklin D. Roosevelt, campaigning for a third term as US President, November 2, 1940, Buffalo, New York

"The first purpose of our foreign policy is to keep our country out of war."

Franklin D. Roosevelt, campaigning for a third term as US President, November 3, 1940, Cleveland

The election was held on Nov. 5. Within 14 months, the USA entered the war. By war's end, 291,557 American soldiers had been killed and 113,842 injured.

Should I add commentary? The quotes speak for themselves. You can't trust politicians,which is a sobering thought since we elect them to lead us. If we did our homework before electing them, if we gave them our votes for doing something more than being good looking or sounding, if we held them to account for their actions then we might find ourselves led by better people. But we as a group don't do that. FDR is the classic case. He was a liar! Yet, the schools teach us that he was nearly a saint. 

FDR was re-elected by a landslide in 1944.

See this article by William Henry Chamberlin in the Institute for Historical Review. He gives a list of all the belligerent actions that FDR took during the next year, not actions that a nation would take if peace were its highest priority. Here are a few of them:

  1. The exchange of American destroyers for British bases in the Caribbean and in Newfoundland in September, 1940. This was a clear departure from the requirements of neutrality and was also a violation of some specific American laws. Indeed, a conference of top government lawyers at the time decided that the destroyer deal put this country into the war, legally and morally.
  2. The enactment of the Lend-Lease Act in March, 1941. In complete contradiction of the wording and intent of the Neutrality Act, which remained on the statute books, this made the United States an unlimited partner in the economic war against the Axis Powers all over the world.
  3. The secret American-British staff talks in Washington in January-March, 1941. Extraordinary care was taken to conceal not only the contents of these talks but the very fact that they were taking place from the knowledge of Congress. At the time when administration spokesmen were offering assurances that there were no warlike implications in the Lend-Lease Act, this staff conference used the revealing phrase, "when the United States becomes involved in war with Germany."
  4. The inauguration of so-called naval patrols, the purpose of which was to report the presence of German submarines to British warships, in the Atlantic in April, 1941.
  5. The dispatch of American laborers to Northern Ireland to build a naval base, obviously with the needs of an American expeditionary force in mind.
  6. The occupation of Iceland by American troops in July, 1941. This was going rather far afield for a government which professed as its main concern the keeping of the United States out of foreign wars.
  7. The Atlantic Conference of Roosevelt and Churchill, August 9-12, 1941. Besides committing America as a partner in a virtual declaration of war aims, this conference considered the presentation of an ultimatum to Japan and the occupation of the Cape Verde Islands, a Portuguese possession, by United States troops.
  8. The orders to American warships to shoot at sight at German submarines, formally announced on September 11. The beginning of actual hostilities may be dated from this time rather than from the German declaration of war, which followed Pearl Harbor.
  9. The authorization for the arming of merchant ships and the sending of these ships into war zones in November, 1941.

He cites Professor Thomas A. Bailey who claims FDR had to lie to the American people because war was necessary and the ignorant masses would never step up to it if asked directly.

However, Chamberlain argues, correctly in my view, that war for the USA was not necessary and claims that Hitler, yimach shemo, was planning to attack the Americas have never been proven. "Not a single serious bit of evidence in proof of these sensational allegations has ever been found, not even when the archives of the Nazi government were at the disposal of the victorious powers." Even Great Britain was not in danger at that time.

Should some 18 year old boy from Ohio have to die in a conflict between European nations? I say no. You can say whatever you like (you of course were not the parent of that boy). Either way, we see what liars politicians can be. 

Remember that. It applies to every country, including the state of israel. They lie to you and the state 'historians'/propagandists lie after the fact. Be a fool at your own risk. Trust only the true gadolim.

Source: From The Journal of Historical Review, Nov.-Dec. 1994 (Vol. 14, No. 6), pages 19-21. This piece is excerpted from the anthology, edited by Harry Elmer Barnes, Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace (1953), Chapter 8, pages 485-491.

About the Author

William Henry Chamberlin (1897-1969) was an American historian and journalist. He was Moscow correspondent for the Christian Science Monitor in Moscow, 1922-1934, and Far Eastern Correspondent for the Monitor, 1939-1940. He contributed important reports and articles to leading American newspapers and periodicals, and for a time wrote a regular column for The Wall Street Journal.  Among his books were Soviet Russia (1930), Russia's Iron Age (1934), The Russian Revolution , 1917-1921 (in two volumes; 1935), Japan Over Asia (1939), The European Cockpit (1947), and America's Second Crusade (1950).

Monday, October 7, 2019

Repentance, Prayer and Charity

In the Unesaneh Tokef tefillah on Yom Kippur we read: “U’tshuva, U’tfila, U’tzedaka ma’avirin es roah hagzeira.” “Repentance, Prayer and Charity remove the unfavorable decree.” Why would these three mitzvos remove the decree more than any other mitzvah?

Rabbi Rabbi Shaya Karlinsky presents some thoughts from the Maharal to explain. Teshuvah means return. Via proper teshuvah we return to Hashem. The Maharal explains that these three activities parallel the Torah, Avodah, and Gemillas Chasadim upon which the world stands (as listed in Pirkei Avos), which in turn parallel the intellectual, emotional, and physical domains of existence.

In Nesiv HaTeshuva, Ch. 5, the Maharal writes:

A principle and a foundation of Teshuva is that a person should be embarrassed over the sin he has done, and because of his embarrassment he is received in teshuvah. (Berachot 12b): “Rav Chinina Saba says in the name of Rav: ‘Anyone who commits a sin and is embarrassed, has all his sins forgiven…’ “

This is the intellectual component of the formula, a recognition that we have not lived up to our potential. Through confession to Hashem, we connect to Him in humility.

Now that we have an intellectual recognition, we turn to prayer. We give our hearts over to Hashem in humility. In Nesiv Ha’Avodah chapter 1, the Maharal writes:

When man prays before G-d, declaring his need and dependence, he shows that he belongs to G-d (the way a slave belongs to an owner because of his dependence). This is why prayer is the essence of service, as it demonstrates man’s complete dependence on and subjugation to G-d.

Lastly, we turn to tzedukah. Through the giving of tzedukah, we give our physical selves. We show our recognition that our possessions are gifts from above to be used in divine service. In Nesiv Hatzedaka, chapter 1, the Maharal writes:

Whenever one bestows charity on others, G-d assists him by providing more money that enables him to continue bestowing charity on others. This is because one who bestows on others is compared to a flowing spring whose waters flow great distances. G-d, who is the source of all bounty bestows resources upon this person in order that he should be able to bestow and share these resources.

Tzeduka connects us to the source of bracha by making us a conduit to the giving of bracha to others.

Friday, October 4, 2019


As the Esrog is compared to the heart, Rav Avigdor Miller zt”l suggests that when a person takes the Esrog on Succos he takes a moment to thank Hashem for his actual heart. According to the Mayo Clinic, the heart beats 86,400 to 144,000 times a day. That’s around 52 million times a year or over 4 billion in the average lifetime. Ideally, we’d thank Hashem for each one of those. As Rav Miller goes on to say, our primary obligation in this world is to thank Hakadosh Baruch Hu. That’s what Avodas Hashem really means, to express constantly our gratitude.

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Why are you shouting?

Why are you shouting?

Even though I live in the country that brazenly calls itself israel, I do my best to avoid Israelis. The term to me does not include Charedi (i.e. ultra-)Orthodox Jews but rather the men with shaved heads who yell as often as they breathe.  It's not everyone but it's such a large percentage that one best stay away from all of them. It's no fun having poison with your morning coffee.

But sometimes one has no choice, particularly when it comes to transportation or healthcare. Two days ago, I traveled to Jerusalem and was treated to hot tempered yelling by the bus drivers in both directions. 

Many Israeli bus drivers are like Seinfeld's soup Nazi. (The Ethiopian drivers are a notable exception.) Be careful how you put the card in the machine. Not too slow, not too fast, not when he's doing something with it even though he doesn't appear to be. If the machine doesn't work, that's obviously your fault. Approach the counter very slowly. One bowl of Jambalaya please. 

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Today, I traveled to the hospital. I had to take two buses and was shouted at each time. Then I was treated to some more hair trigger impatience by some of the staff at the hospital. One of the patients shouted furiously at the nurses, who shouted back. Last time there, the surgeon who was examining me shouted at someone who called him on the phone. I am inclined to ask such people, why are you shouting?

Last week I visited the national insurance office. Again, I was yelled at by nearly everyone I spoke to. I had a queue number in hand and when my number was called I approached the relevant clerk. For 10 minutes she didn't look up. Remembering that in this insane country one must be assertive, I said simply, may I enter?

Her head popped up and in a rage she shouted at me the most hypocritical thing that any Israeli can shout at any living thing: "Savlanut!" "Patience!"

The famous critic of israel Norman Finkelstein says, "Israel is a mean place." He stretches out the word 'mean' when he says it. "a meeeaaaan place." I guess he's been there. You even see it at the hospital; although I must admit the hospital is a bit more civilized.

These people aren't just loud. They are angry and they are angry at you. They project a toxic shame that can kill you if you don't stop to realize that you don't deserve this treatment even if you made a mistake. 

But the real fun came on the ride home from the hospital. I put my card in the machine, but it didn't seem to work. The RavKav as they call it is not all it's cracked up to be. Few things in the country that erroneously calls itself israel are. Very often, the machines struggle to read the cards. One has to bend the card back and forth for the info to be picked up. So much for that incredible Israeli technology.

On the rides that don't issue receipts, it can get confusing. For example, on the Jerusalem light rail, the card readers don't issue a receipt at all and one wonders, did it work? Same with many of the intra-city trips as well as inter-city trips where the machine isn't working and the bus pulls over so that men who are even scarier than the bus drivers can board and use hand held readers. I can't figure out the rule and the drivers have no interest in explaining it. They'd much rather take a bite out of your head for even daring to ask. Oftentimes, it seems, the machine just isn't issuing receipts and the driver waves you on.

The problem is the fare enforcers. These are people who are even scarier than the guys who board with the hand held readers. They demand your card and swipe to see if you paid. Look out if you didn't. You will receive a ticket and a large swath of verbal abuse and humiliation, even by israeli standards. You didn't pay? We got you, you filthy, lying criminal who obviously seeks to drive the state into the sea. 

Guess what happened to me? I boarded the bus, stuck my card in the machine, didn't hear anything, bent it forward and back, heard some kind of beep, but didn't get a receipt. Nevertheless, the driver waved me on impatiently.

You always have to be careful when somebody acts casual in this society. They are casual until they are not. They go from exhorting you to not bother with the details to crucifying you in a Tel Aviv second. 

Sure enough, we drove a few stops and then came the fare enforcer. Picture the stereotypical gruff, stone-faced, arrogant israeli. He was tall and burly too. He reminded me of a grizzle bear -- not when the bear frolics in the water but when he is in a violent rage. 

"You didn't pay!"

"I did. Can your machine read my card?" It appeared that it couldn't.

"You didn't pay!" Louder this time.

"I did pay."

"Give me your ID."

Everyone is watching of course. I have feared this moment, having seen it happen to others, and have always been very careful to hold onto my receipts. Numerous times I sat in fear whenever the machine didn't give me one. 

"Where do you live?" Israelis are big on interrogation. They learn this in the army.

I told him where dutifully, not wanting to create a bigger scene than he had already created.

"Why didn't you pay?"

"I did."

"You didn't," he said with total confidence, like a man who is in the habit of defining reality. 

I wanted to say to him, I took three trips already today. I paid each time. Why would I not pay now? I took two trips yesterday. I paid each time. There's money on my card. 

But my Hebrew isn't good and I suspect any comment in my defense would have just triggered more full throated shouting. If you ever want to see heavy weight shouting, come to the country that deceptively calls itself israel. These people are like bull horns. They are nuts. I once heard comedian Don Rickles talk about Frank Sinatra's hair trigger temper. Rickles shook his head as if reliving a painful memory. This whole country is like that, at least the secular part is. 

I also wanted to tell the fare enforcer how honest I am. I am not any kind of righteous man but I don't steal ever. I am so careful about that. I won't even read books at the bookstore. 

But the thing is, nothing I could possibly say would matter. This was such an abnormal and pathological scene.  It's not abnormal for the country that shouldn't be called israel, but it's abnormal for anywhere else. It was his big chance to abuse somebody.

Here's how the exchange might have transpired in Tennessee. 

"Sir, I realize you might have paid, but the machine is showing otherwise. I am sorry I have to ticket you, but maybe get your card replaced so you don't have to go through this again. Have a good day sir."

I would say the encounter I did have was the exact opposite of the one I just imagined, one that could very well happen in many parts of the world. I have witnessed pleasant encounters like that, pleasant despite the difficult circumstances. 

But not in israel. Why not?

The Gemara says that Jews can be identified by three traits: humility, modesty, and compassion. 

Rabbi Shimon Schwab, Rabbi Avigdor Miller, and many other rabbis have commented that Zionism is the opposite of Judaism.

"truth compels us to state unequivocally that most certainly Zionist is not at all identical with Judaism that in fact it is diametrically opposed to it." Rabbi Shimon Schwab

Rabbi Miller called Zionism the "antithesis of Judaism."

Judaism is a religion of humility before God, of self-disciplined conduct, of kindness to others, of spiritual rather than materialistic pursuits. These are not the goals in the anti-religious, materialistic, militaristic, hyped up, crazed Zionist state. 

So therefore, it is logical to expect that Zionism will produce people who don't act like Jews. Take this fare enforcer for example. He was arrogant, heartless, and immodest. A product of Zionism.

Later in the day, I went to the bus company office to get a new card. I tried to complain to the young woman there about my faulty card (not the first time I have done that) and the ticket I received, but she wasn't interested in hearing it at all. Her smart phone got all her attention. She was like a stone faced soldier. Judging by her age she likely was recently in the military so essentially she was a soldier. And by the way, she was showing about 3 inches of cleavage. She was incredibly immodest. And this was in a Charedi neighborhood, more evidence that immodest women don't get harassed in Charedi neighborhoods despite what the newspapers tell you. This young woman goes to one every day and feels comfortable dressing like that.

And what about all the other shouters, and shovers, and humiliaters in the country that shouldn't be called israel? 

A few weeks ago I had a wild encounter with one of them at the car rental place. I had taken a trip to one of the separate gender beaches that aliyah (move to the land of Israel) salesmen talk about when pretending that the country accommodates Charedim. But this beach, like the other two I have visited, consists of a tiny stretch of dirty beach, maybe 75 meters, that is crammed with men even as more than a 1000 meters of spacious beach front is used by Chilonim (non-religious people). Even more amazingly, the Chiloni lifeguards, who were shouting constantly at the swimmers via a bullhorn, did not sit in front of the Charedi swimmers but about 100 meters away in an area that very well could have been used by the Charedim but strangely was off limits to them. 

After the trip, I drove to the car rental place and pulled up to the drop off area in the garage. A young attendant wanted me to back up so he could pull out a car. I started to back up but saw that the only open area was around a 20 meter bend. I would have to back up into a narrow passage way, turn left, and then back up another 20 meters. 

I tried to do this but got stuck. Drove forward, reversed. It wasn't going well. I drive maybe once a year and don't get much practice in going in reverse or parking. Plus, a health condition makes it difficult for me to turn around and look behind me. I feared that I was going to scrape against another car. So in a moment of daring, I got out of the car and asked the attendant if he could park the car, explaining as best I could in my faulty Hebrew that I feared damaging the car.

He began to shout. 

I haven't figured out yet how to respond to Israeli shouting. I don't like the feeling of losing control but need I be a punching bag?

It had been a long day, so I shouted back.

He became a pit bull. Imagine the foam covered teeth of a pit bull. Now imagine it two inches from your face. It was psychotic. This was a young guy, probably no more than a year after completing his army service. The closer to the army experience they are, the worse they are.

We shouted back and forth and eventually another guy came and parked the car. Then he made me wait and wait and wait as he took pictures of it. Israelis know all the tricks of how to inconvenience people. They are experts at aggression, passive aggression, every kind of aggression. 

But as the second guy was photographing the car, the crazy guy started racing a different car around the garage, intentionally driving close to my legs. The chamber echoed with the screech of wheels as he raced passed me several times. It was clearly an effort to intimidate.

I decided not to report him as I felt sort of bad for him actually. Plus, would that do any good in a country where behavior like this is standard? 

But then a few days later I started to worry that I somehow made religious Jews look bad with my shouting. Maybe he thought I was an American prima donna who couldn't be bothered to park a car. So I went to the office and asked the manager to explain to the parking attendants why I asked them to be the ones to back up the car. 

That's when the grilling began, the interrogation. What happened? When? Was it Tuesday? What time? Where were you? Which car?

Then feeling bad about my yelling, I let it slip that he yelled at me and I yelled back. 

He yelled at you? Which attendant? Was it this one, this one?

I stressed to them that I didn't want anyone to get in trouble. I wanted to smooth out the situation. But I could see that they didn't share my interest. They only wanted to know who the young man was so they could punish him.

I walked out thinking, this is the Israeli military, constant punishing of everyone. That is where they learn this.

Shouting and bullying comes from arrogance. Humble people don't berate others at the drop of a hat or bus card. Shouting is psychological violence.

Zionism has produced a country of arrogance. When a movement is based on rebellion against God, the result isn't going to be spiritual health. The result is going to be exactly what you see in the country that we should no longer refer to as israel.

Rebellion against God you ask? I refer you to Israeli historian Benny Morris:

“The war was definitely not a jihad or a religious war on the Israeli side. On the Israeli side, the Jewish population in Palestine, the yishuv, was 90% secular at the time. And the leadership of the yishuv was almost totally secular. The military leadership, the political leadership. It was a very secular society. You get an optical illusion when you look back from 2016 when Israel has become much more religious or a larger part, segment of its population is religious. But in 1948 the people who counted and actually the vast majority of the population was of course non-religious. In fact they were children, or actually the people themselves, who had rebelled against religion. This is what Zionism was all about, partly, against rebelling against the old world of their fathers, which was a religious world. They rebelled also against God. So they didn’t approach the war at all as a religious war, not the generals, not the politicians, not Ben-Gurion, not Sharet, not Allon, not Dayan. They were irreligious people. Maybe even they were anti-religious, so the religious people saw them.” (Israeli historian Benny Morris on “A New Look at the 1948 Arab-Israeli War,” Wilson Center, 43:15) 

You hear that you Christian Zionists? These are rebels against God that you are supporting.

After these incidents, it occurred to me, what if I had been an Arab? And what if I had encountered these abusive men in the West Bank? I am a Jew and an Israeli citizen so that is probably the limit of what they can do to me via their low level jobs. But what would happen in the West Bank, which the Israeli army subjects to a military rule that Benny Morris described as "brute force, repression and fear, collaboration and treachery, beatings and torture chambers, and daily intimidation, humiliation, and manipulation.” What would these disturbed individuals do when possessing real power over people?

I can picture the scene.  israeli soldier: "You threw a rock." Palestinian child: "I didn't do anything." 

israeli soldier: "You are coming with me."

The fare enforcer and the parking attendant decided that I was guilty of something terrible. This comes from early life training in the country that dares to be called israel, that all the Palestinians are our enemies. They are all out to get us and are all guilty. The soldiers practice this in the West Bank and take it back home with them when the army service is done. The result is palpable cynicism and misanthropy all over society.

All the fare enforcer knew really was that either my RavKav was unreadable or that payment for this one trip didn't appear on the obviously unreliable card that the bus company gave me and expected me to use. You know that he deals with faulty bus cards all the time. He didn't know if I had actually paid or tried to pay (which I did). He didn't care that the driver waved me on. 

But the fare enforcer thought he knew.

He reminded me of a German that I once encountered in a hotel near the Dead Sea. I was there with a close family friend who took me into a very large lounge. I sat down on an empty bench when suddenly there stood before me a young German.

"Get up, get up!" he barked in English.


"You are in my seat, get up!"

I got up slowly, looked him in the eye with disdain, and countered not too originally, "You want me to get up?"

"Get up, get up!" he continued, doing his best impersonation of a true to life Nazi, his grandfather in the 1940s. As I walked away I thought, so that's what it was like back then.

Years ago, this close family friend retired to that country that shouldn't call itself what it does call itself. A jolly, fun loving sort of fellow, he stayed about 3 years before returning to the USA. Reflecting later on those 3 years, he said uncharacteristically and simply, "those arrogant S.O.B.s."

At the time I didn't really grasp what he meant. I just noted the comment in my mind. I wondered how could a whole country of people be arrogant.

I don't wonder any more.

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Time to leave the land

The Israeli army is not a kosher. Don't tell me that frum people can daven and learn there, you know, daven quickly in the green fatigues while on a march. Judaism is above all obedience to Hashem, not army commanders. 

Armies are unnatural places. If a country is being invaded, you need an army and must deal with the tremendous costs of training young people to be obedient killers. They never get over that. I know numerous American veterans who now in their 80s still identify with the military and just can't seem to move on from their experiences in war and even peacetime service. Military training is abusive by nature. It destroys individuality. It breaks natural forms of obedience and converts them to obedience to the army command.

At the same time it teaches arrogance. You need arrogance to kill someone and the army teaches it in spades. The Israeli army is worst than most in that regard. 

Judaism is humility. Judaism is trust in the Almighty. Those are the most important things. We study Torah to connect to Hashem. We daven to connect to Him. Studying and davening while practicing arrogance is worthless.

The army teaches arrogance. It teaches swagger. It produces an obsession with the physical, with the body. It's entirely un-Jewish. Is the military culture that Israel employs created by Jews? No, it all comes from gentile military culture, even those green uniforms that don't seem to make much sense in the desert.

But Jews, being Jews, take that gentile military culture and turn it into a religion. Jews turn whatever they do into religion, even atheism. That's why the only preoccupation that's good for Jews is Torah life. Anything else becomes a mess.

Are Charedim needed for the Israeli army? No. Israel has not been invaded by a foreign army in 45 years and even that war was avoidable as were the two before that. The Israeli style is aggressiveness. They get themselves in conflicts and then try to guilt others into fighting the battles that they started.

The entire state of Israel comes from a bold act. The Zionists tried to force the end of exile by establishing a country in the midst of millions of people who didn't want them there. That's chutzpah. But it's also chutzpha because it opposes the Divine admonition recorded in the Talmud not to force the end of exile. If you do, says the Talmud based on Shir HaShirim, you will be served up for slaughter like a gazelle to carnivores. 

For all the Dati Leumi who disregard the Three Oaths from tractate Kesubos, what's to explain all the Arab aggression? Anti-semitism is the convenient answer, the answer for everything in Israel. But why come to that? The Gemara says if you force the end of exile, you will suffer like a gazelle from carnivores. And the Chumash tells us if you abandon the commandments you will set upon by every kind of harm. The Zionists are unusual historically speaking in that not only are they trying to force the end of exile but they are abandoning the commandments at the same time. And they wonder why they have enemies? Antisemitism they say over and over again.

So the Zionists forced the end of exile and Heaven sent enemies. And now the Zionists want to draft all the Charedim into the army because that's what they say is needed to fight antisemitism. How shallow is this logic? The genesis of the enemies is forcing the end of exile and the tossing away of the commandments. So what kind of response is a secular army and continuing to force the end of exile?

The Charedim didn't force the end of exile. The Charedim didn't abandon the commandments. The Charedim don't provoke the world. 

The draft means the end of true Judaism. It's that bad a threat. And I think Charedim need to leave the land. The Babylonians came and made the land inhabitable for faithful Jews. The Romans came and made the land inhabitable for faithful Jews. We have seen this before. Now the Zionists have come, traifed up the land, and produced a military culture, a military worship that constitutes idol worship and the destruction of the Jewish character. 

Israelis laugh at the Jewish character. They say they laugh at the shtetl Jew but they are really laughing at the Jew. They are laughing at the person of faith and humility. They prefer to be Israeli, which means aggressive and bold. They call us parasites for not wanting to be in their army, the one they use to force the end of exile, the one that has caused so much bloodshed, 25,000 Jews killed since 1947.

But they use the literature, language, history, and symbols that were created by Orthodox Jews and then refuse to be Orthodox themselves. Who are the parasites? 

They take 4 billion dollars a year from the USA, plus all kinds of advantageous trade arrangements. This is $500 per Israeli. They have taken a quarter of a trillion dollars from the USA over the decades. Now that's a parasite.

And how much have they taken from pushkas, how much tzedukah, much of it major tzedukah have they taken? Walk around Haddassah hospital and note all the plaques. You won't find an Israeli donor there. It's all chutzeh l'aretz, mostly America. Boca Raton, Beverley Hills, Brookline, Chicago, Brooklyn - American city after American city. These were handouts to Israel. I don't think that secular Israelis should start throwing around the charge of anyone being a parasite.

Charedim generally are very active in charity and chesed and trying to help. Whenever I ask for directions in Israel, the best help comes from Charedim. The Chilonim point sometimes, shrug their shoulders much of the time. The Charedim would love to help, but the army cannot be the way.  

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Somewhere along the line

"Somewhere along the line, in the service of home and country, I forgot about the service of G-d." Israeli soldier who left religion during his time in the army. (N. Seltzer, Stories with a Twist, p. 66)

The Israeli army experience has an intensity unlike that probably of any army in the world, except maybe North Korea. It isn't only about training in warfare or technology. It's indoctrination about the Holocaust, about Arabs, about alleged Israeli invincibility, about how God supposedly didn't protect us in the past so we'll do it for ourselves now.

This of course is the dynamic of the Sin of the Golden Calf. Moshe hadn't returned so they made an idol to replace him. The army is that idol. 

It's all done with a religious fervor by people who have no other religion. And a young person can easily get lost in the shouting, bullying, chest pumping, and propagandizing. The intent is to transfer obedience to Hashem to obedience to commanders. 

Military training in general is designed to create obedience to commanders. How else do you teach a normal person to kill? Most people don't have that in them. That's why universal draft only makes sense when a country is being invaded by another nation. You pay a big price for a draft. It damages people. And it really damages those who are not military types, which is most people. 

It does not make sense just to draft people because maybe, maybe you'll need them in a time of war. Nothing is free in this life. You pay a big price for drafting the whole nation. And I'm not even talking about the economic price which is also huge. I'm talking about a psychological price. 

And then there's the religious price. The army experience kills religious feeling. I have seen that in soldier after soldier. Publicity shots of soldiers wearing tefillin by the kosel are just that, publicity photos. They mask what goes on in the hearts of the soldiers which is a change from yiras shemayim to yiras Chief of Staff, yiras Colonel, Heaven save us.

The Israeli draft is a complete violation of religious freedom because the Israeli army is a religion unto itself. No wonder soldiers come in religious and leave non-religious. I have met more than a few like that.

The one in the N. Seltzer story found his way back. Others do not.

For chilonim, there is damage too. I know several who told me the army ruined them. One told me he still gets nightmares. Another told me he contemplated suicide regularly while in the army. But the contrast of pre-army to army is not nearly as big. chilonim don't lose their religion in the army. They are raised on the army of religion.

In my view, the Israeli army should be a professional army. America loses far more soldiers every year but still staffs its enormous military. And only parts of America are military oriented. All of Israel, except for the charedim, is obsessed with the military and Israel actually loses very few soldiers. So I doubt they'd  have trouble filling their ranks with professional soldiers. This is the belief of the Zehut party.

Leave the charedim out of it please. We don't want your money. We just want no part of the military and its culture.